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Getting Your Furnace Through One More Season

If your furnace is pushing 20 then you might be looking for a furnace replacement soon. SF Gate says you can expect the typical furnace to give you 15 to 20 years of service. That's more than most other electrical/mechanical devices in your life. With a little help, though, you might get your furnace through one more cold season. These tips will let your furnace run more efficiently with less effort. They might just get your furnace through the winter.

Change the Furnace Filter

This is one of the few maintenance tasks that the homeowner can do with their furnace, but it's also one that's easy to forget. Your furnace draws fresh air in through the filter, heats it in the exchange box, then sends the warm air through the ductwork to the house. If the filter is dirty, the furnace works harder to pull air through it, wearing the motor out faster. A clean filter keeps the airflow smoother with less stress on the furnace motor.

When buying the furnace filter, you have many choices. Try using the least expensive filter available first. If you don't have pets, or people with severe allergies or asthma living in the house, the more expensive HEPA filters might be overkill. Because of their high density, they make the furnace work harder, even when brand new. If you're trying to extend the life of your furnace, use the inexpensive filters and change them every few weeks.

Reduce the Humidity in Your Home

The EPA suggests keeping the humidity level between 25–40% percent in the house. This will help you feel warmer in the cool months and it also extends the life of the heat exchanger. At higher humidity levels, the furnace runs longer to heat the house. Condensation can appear on the exchanger causing rust. Once this happens you lose the effectiveness of the furnace.

Seal the Air Leaks

By making sure you have a good weather seal around windows, doors, vents and other openings to the outside of the house, you allow the furnace to run less often to keep the house warm. Especially important is to have no cool drafts coming into the room where the thermostat is installed. The rest of the house may be toasty warm, but cool air blowing on the thermostat tells the furnace otherwise, so it keeps on running.

Be Smart About the Thermostat Settings

You don't need the thermostat set to 74 all day while you're away at work. Remember to set it down before you leave and back up when you get home. Or get a programmable thermostat to do that for you. The furnace will run less often and you'll get more life out of it.

Know When It's Time to Replace the Furnace

As a cost-conscious homeowner, you want to get as much out of the furnace as you can. But you don't want to wait until the last minute. If the furnace breaks down in the middle of the cold season, you'll be faced with buying and installing whatever is available. Start shopping for a new furnace while there is still some life left in it to get the best deal.